There's a line in front of me. It's back again. I've been running from it for countless years, even before I knew what it was. I have always been running from The Line.
I am standing in the middle of a desert. Nobody knows where it is; it is my desert and mine alone. In my desert, they have come for me, as they have come for thousands before me. I am not ready. The bringers of knowledge, some call them. The bringers of intelligence, insight, and progress. Harbingers of destruction I call them. Destroyers of hopes and dreams, messengers of desperation, greed, and selfishness. Some say that they help you to see the light. I say that they snuff it out, as carelessly as someone swats a fly.
Some are pushed.
Some go willingly.
Some are dragged.
Whatever the case, everyone crosses The Line. It is inevitable.
As I face them, and as I look down at the line, I grow fearful. I turn and run as fast as I can. Anything to escape my inevitable fate. Faster and faster I go, but they are gaining. Faster. I must escape. They are catching up to me, and I trip. I stumble and I fall. I begin to weep.
"No!" I cry, through my tears of sorrow, but it's too late. I try to stand but they are already there. They grab my arms and begin dragging me back towards The Line. I fight with all of my might, flailing and screaming. "Let me go! I won't! I swore that I would never!" Then again, we all swore that. Often we don't want to cross The Line until it is in sight.
Some of us are pushed over before our time.
Some go willingly.
Some are dragged.
I am still fighting. I refuse to accept that my time has come. It can't be over. I will not cross. I will not. They bring me closer to the line and I begin to panic. I dig my heels into the ground, but the sand of the desert doesn't provide much friction. They speak only in whispers, and very softly, "Stop being silly. It's for your own good. We know what's best for you." Sweet nothings whispered as comfort to the unsure. My resolve is stronger, but not strong enough. They drag me across the line.
For a time, I continue to fight. Kicking and screaming with all of my might.
Eventually, everyone looses sight of the line. They lead you away from it, and soon you forget all about The Line. You forget about how you crossed it, and whether or not you fought. If you forget, you probably didn't. The other side becomes a dream, a memory, a myth. Something you knew a long time ago, but have forgotten.
They are still trying to drag me away, and I'm still fighting. I lift my eyes, and across the line I see a little girl. She's standing alone. My desert has become her garden. She is wearing footie pajamas. She has long brown hair. She could be anywhere from seven to ten years old. She's holding a pink and blue blanket, clutching it tightly to her. She also has a small stuffed toy. A tiny mink, given to her by her grandmother. She smiles at the toy, hugs it, and then looks up at me. The look in her eyes is sad, and she waves goodbye.
I give up at this point. I fall to my knees, and they let me do so, but they keep holding on to my arms. New tears flow down my cheeks, and I am silent for a long time. I just stare at the little girl waving at me. After a time she turns around and starts walking away. I hang my head and whisper to no one, "I'm sorry. I am so sorry." I look up and the girl is gone. What had been her garden is once again my desert, and there is The Line. I remain on my knees and I close my eyes. I turn my face to the sky as they begin to drag me farther away from The Line.
For a time they will continue to take me farther and farther away. Eventually I will be released and they will leave me, as they do for everyone. I will wander in my desert, and I will try to find a new garden, or lake, or forest, or whatever I choose. Perhaps I will go back to The Line someday. I will sit and talk with the little girl and ask her to show me all of her most special toys. I will cry with her on days that there were bullies, and on the day her uncle dies. I will keep vigil with her by The Line, but I may never cross it. Once you cross The Line you can never go back, try as you might. Many have tried. Many others have never journeyed back. They have forgotten what it was like on the other side. They have shunned the little boys and girls that waved at them as they were led away, and they will never be able to find them again. They are the ones who went eagerly, but not all of us do so.
Some were pushed.
Some went willingly.
Some were dragged.